It was incredible to speak recently at The University of Rochester, my alma mater. I loved going to school here, and it occurred to me, as I revisited the stacks in the Rush Rhees Library, that this place helped inspire BookSmiles. I recall the stacks as a refuge and a great place to study.
I used study breaks to wander. I leafed through books nearly as old as our country. It always impressed me that this place housed millions of books.
BookSmiles will one day announce that we have sourced and distributed millions of books to kids who previously had none.
Max, one of my freshmen, helped at our pop up book fair during Lindenwold Day. Hundreds more books are now in the homes of our students. Having students like Max spread literacy is one of the SWEET SPOTS. Our Lindenwold is a town that reads!
Dan McVay, a talented and compassionate supervisor for Philadelphia Department of Human Services, thought it would be a great idea to start putting children's books into the hands of Philadelphia toddlers and kids experiencing trauma, poverty, and abuse. BookSmiles will feed his organization tens of thousands of books over the years.
Here he is, about to load his van with 875 sorted books! Below, you will see his staff members assembling a library that we will keep restocked. BAM!
What a week! BookSmiles has partnered with Senator Jim Beach and the Sal Pal Breakfast event to provide 15 books to each student attending the Urban Promise School.
We have also partnered with Virtua Mobile Farmers Market and Virtua's Mobile Pediatric Unit to provide books to underserved youth across South Jersey. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNADWiBnrHw
We have so far sourced and donated 25,000 books to the Lindenwold district where I teach. Our goal is to inject 250,000 books into the Lindenwold community.
Did you know that teachers are capped at $250 to take tax deductions for school supplies? Lots of teachers drop that in one shopping session on Amazon so that they can get quality books for their classroom.
BookSmiles provided teachers with thousands of books FOR FREE as the school year started. New teachers, especially, should not be burdened with spending hundreds of dollars on books.
Holy Family Episcopal Church, located in Laurel Springs, hit it out of the park! We just picked up a hefty donation of 1,030 books. Many kids in SJ who have few to no books will now have them! Thanks for being such an inspiration, Holy Family. Imagine how many books could have a new life in other children's hands if more houses of worship did what is recounted below by Cathy Brakin, the member who spearheaded the drive:
"Holy Family Episcopal Church is a merger of two smaller congregations. Back in the spring, our ECW (Episcopal Church Women) group met and discussed how we wanted to take on a service project as a newly-formed entity. Our wish was to benefit the nearby community. Lindenwold was mentioned. I asked my friend and Lindenwold school board member, Jo-Ann Engels, what needs exist in that community. She told me about BookSmiles. I checked out the website and videos and presented it to the ECW. They enjoyed the videos of Mr. Abrams and his pop up book fairs. We decided to make BookSmiles our mission for the summer.
I was skeptical about how many books we could collect since we are are very small parish with a majority of older folks. How many would still have children’s books at home? Slowly but surely the books started piling up. One parishioner, Annmarie Cranford, organized a book drive at her place of employment, Martin Law, in Center City. Books were brought in by members of a painting class that meets at the parish hall. Families in our “Messy Church” intergenerational ministry carried in bags and boxes of pre-loved books.
A sorting and packing session was held one afternoon in late August. As we separated the volumes according to age level, it turned into a party. Those titles brought back sweet memories. We reminisced about books we loved as kids as well as those we read to our own children. “Goodnight Moon is my favorite!” “Madeline - what a classic!” “I want to re-read the entire Nancy Drew series.” All told, we had collected over 1,000 books.
We pray that these books will inspire a lifelong love of reading."
BookSmiles had a special delivery to the Boys & Girls Club of Camden County today. We brought over 600 books on the last day of the summer session. About 130 children selected a few books each, fully aware of the importance of building a personal library and eventually donating them back. A big thanks to Executive Director Bernadette Shanahan and her staff for slotting us in! We look forward to many more pop-up bookfairs with the Boys and Girls Club.
Imagine that you're a new teacher. You're strapped with student loans, and you're not exactly making a fortune at your new job, but you want to create a classroom filled with stimulating books that you can loan to or give to your students. You feel that fostering book ownership is a must, particularly if you're teaching in an underserved area, a place where most students SELDOM or NEVER make it Barnes and Noble or get books as gifts. Do you really have to spend money on books?
Don't fret! As BookSmiles grows, we will be here for you. We will give you books that you can give to your students. And we will keep on giving because we constantly source new and gently used children's books.
Here are a few organizations that contributed LOADS of quality books over the summer: Kellman Brown Academy, Tall Pines Day Camp, and the Goddard School of Medford,
We want to give a humongous thanks to Betsy Fischer for throwing a fantastic party at her Groove Lounge. The price of admission? Each child had to donate at least five books, and we raised 225!
Thank you Classic Cake and The Pretzel Factory for sponsoring the event.
Birthdays and celebrations provide a perfect time to gather new and gently used children's books. BookSmiles' is determined to give 100 books to every child we reach, with the hope that they become donors themselves.
We're also thrilled with the way Tall Pines Day Camp gathered 3,600 weeks during its recent week of kindness. Campers and staff answered the call and donated an impressive number of books within a one week drive. We're looking forward a fall drive by the JCC Camps at Medford!
Booksmiles does not take a vacation in the summer. In fact, we use this as a time to collect crazy quantities of gently used children's books. We source our books in creative ways, from Betsy Fischer's Groove Lounge doing a benefit to the Goddard School in Medford sponsoring one of our collection bins.